Call me “fascinated” by my own comment from a previous post,
My fascination lies with what seems to me to be a pervasive phenomenon in human affairs which I call cognitive irreversibility, which is a perception by a human agent that a willful physical action of theirs is to some degree irreversible. From an economics perspective, I am exploring that cognitive irreversibility may be a necessary condition for economic value to emerge. This is not a simple re-hash of Hernando de Soto’s imperative of property rights. Rather I suspect that irreversibility may be something of an imperative, an entropy imperative, for a great deal of human cognitive behavior including:
- compression in cognitive concept-building
- time reduction as a complexity management strategy
- the emergence of the concept of property
- marginal utility in economics
- the attraction of tyrannical leadership (irreversible surrender to authority)
- rape, murder and war (the imposition of irreversibility)
- tattooing and body piercing (here is where it becomes explicit)
- transsexualism as a mechanism to manage “out of control” empathy
I am not suggesting that humans always explicitly seek “irreversibility” in decision-making, but that a lot of human behavior (especially that which we consider “economic activity”) can be modeled using one-way motivational operators, that is modeled in terms of what appears to be either explicit entropy-seeking or entropy-seeking gone wrong (cognitive failure). I am also not suggesting that human activity can be mathematically modeled using thermodynamics. Rather, similar to what the early information theorists did, I am borrowing the concept of “entropy” for its superficial relationship to irreversibility (Shannon seemed to be attracted to the idea of information variety).
I’ll post more later as I develop the idea further, but in the mean time consider the cognitive phenomenon of “boat burning”, or “Crossing the Rubicon”, or point of no return,
Update: given a physically rigorous definition of entropy, I may want to reconsider borrowing the term as an analogy for “irreversibility”,
“Entropy change is the measure of how more widely a specific quantity of molecular energy is dispersed in a process, whether isothermal gas expansion, gas or liquid mixing, reversible heating and phase change or chemical reactions, as shown by the Gibbs free energy equation/T .”
While models such as Gibbs free energy for chemistry loosely associate irreversibility with entropy, the association is not necessary and may even be misleading. The association, for instance, may lead one to assume that equations of thermodynamics may somehow be applicable to economics. As Claude Shannon was aware, this is not necessarily so.